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Friday, July 29, 2011

Letters to a Soldier Deployed in Iraq: Two Hour Lunch


I’ll tell you this much, I’m going to be a lot happier once I’ve posted all the letters to this man. I sent him letters during his deployment, stood over his bed when he was ill, and even provided him a place to live. None of those things made any difference to him in the end. He still insisted on making my life miserable.

18th November 2007   

Dear (Soldier),

Well, I had thought that you had no Internet so I haven’t been writing lately. It’s been really hectic here with school, and frankly it looks as if it will get no better. This semester was my largest ever at seventeen units, and I have to say that it has been about as bad as the nine-unit semester I had back at the junior college. They seem to pride themselves in screwing with you at (The State College).

On the bright side, they have given me up to two-hour lunches at work so I use the time to sleep. The thirty-two hour days aren’t has hard on me when I get that nap only thing is that I wish I had it at the beginning of the semester. Right now it looks like I will pass all or most of my classes. Over the next five days I need to finish three assignments per day if I’m to get all caught up by the end of thanksgiving.

It’s still a really big dilemma for me whether or not to go for the second major. It puts me in the running for a fifty thousand dollar a year job but should take another year of classes and I need to get looking at it by the end of the semester. I just don’t want to get out of school and be a security guard. I’ve had enough of that sort of thing.

Anyway, fool, you keep your nose clean out there and get home safe,

Richard

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Running at a Canyon


Ah, I remember this, just as it became time for me to get that computer fixed I lost my job and it didn’t happen. Here it is some nine months later and I still haven’t worked much out. Life toddles about in the bad economy and it moves on only slowly.

23rd of September 2010
Dear Cassi,

A funny thing, I brought up the topic of anger management with Pickles and he said "no wonder you're easier to live with." I suppose this is what can be called selective memory. When I think of all the times I came home to a beating or to him having smashed something of mine I just shrug. He thinks for some reason I've accepted the idea that I will live with him for the rest of my life. One way or another, that's just not going to happen.

In other news I'm trying to put videos on YouTube, but my computer is not cooperating. It keeps cutting out when I try to send a video from my camera to my computer. I'm saving the files to my computer out right instead of working on them from the camera now hoping that will work, but the big issue appears to be that the camera saves in something called an MP4. Technology sucks. I'm doing all kinds of things to get the video to work better, but it just doesn't want to. I don't know. The last resort is to reduce the quality of the video to something like VGA or normal screen standards. Let's hope that does it.

On the one hand, in December an old friend of mine will be coming down to visit his father, and I'll be able to have him work on my computer and get it up to a more modern model. On the other hand, that means that I have until December to make my internet projects sustainable. Can't go pouring money into a project that isn't going to work out. The webcomic should be supported by the YouTube channel and so if one gets going the other should get stronger.

They say the top YouTubers have a six figure income, and that the top webcomic artists still only make five and there are some reasons for that, I'd be happy with either if it meant that I didn't have to be a guard any longer. This could work, that could work, but what will? It's the problem we are having in the bad economy, and yet it feels so close to my chest it's making it hard to breathe.

I guess you can understand that feeling, or am I just rambling to the void? I don't know if I'm making much sense. Webcomic writing did something for me though, it told me who my friends were, and that sad truth is most of my friends are like you. Most of the people who would be there for me couldn't because of the hard nature of the world they live in, but there is a list in my head of the people I would help if I got things to work out for me.

For the last year my life has been like running at a canyon edge hoping to jump across. I keep running, but the distance is increasing. I don't know if I'd rather fall to my death or keep running. I just keep running, because I've gotten this far and I would rather die than go back. The edge looms, but still I wonder if I will ever reach it, or stumble and be left on the dry ground.

I feel as if I can taste the dust of this lonely slope and see the gray of the rocks. A world so desolate has engulfed me that I feel as if life has drained away and is nearly lost. This is a place where my body would be left mummified forever trapped and frozen in my last moments. This is the world of my reality, dark, tragic, and cold. I do so wish you were doing better than I though I know it is not true.

Best,

Richard Leland Neal 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Return to Sender


When I put this letter together Cassi had a few issues with her P.O. box. I received three of my letters back marked return to sender. It was a minor pain in a world of it, but it was there.

11th July 2011
Dear Cassi,

Our late issues with the mail hit a note with me when I opened the last of the three returned envelopes. It was clear at some point in its two week amblings that the paper was exposed to heat. I could see the ghost image of many of the lines made so by the reactivation of the toner from its printing.

The tortured paper was a clear image of the events surrounding it. That simple piece of paper took a long march to return only to who sent it to have been replaced. It came to life to die as we all do.

The day is a circle of light to dark, but in most parts of the world the day starts in darkness as it ends in darkness. As the earth turns so do lives, and we all return to the darkness from which we came.

That’s what life has felt like for me for these past few years, just an endless circle, a repetition. Hope is the coming of the dawn and the promise of a new day, but is there any worth in that day?

Everywhere I turn in the modern day I find people looking to waste my time. I sent out three job applications to get three new emails about jobs that aren’t real.

The bad economy has given rise to a new breed of scavenger. The internet worms scuttle about leaving a trail of email slime and feeding of the dead flesh that is the job seeker.

I wonder if we can ever wash away the refuse that is making our world sick. Never entirely, but things will improve some day.

Stay safe,




Richard Leland Neal

Friday, July 15, 2011

Support Network

This is a letter written during one of the darker times of a life lived in twilight. I think you can see the disjointed nature of my thoughts along with the desperation and gloom.

1st October 2010
Dear Cassi,

On Thursday I realized that my fast food habit was only a front for my caffeine habit. I woke up to the feeling of a sumo wrestler straddling my face. My head was pounding, my throat was dry, and I was having trouble breathing. Not that I couldn't breathe, actually, but that I kept forgetting. As my pen ran along the graphite lines of my Friday comic I kept realizing that I was holding my breath and would have to stop and breathe for a few seconds.

The pounding heat of the last few days was no help in this regard, and also having to hold off to wipe the perspiration from my hands was something of a bother. That's one of the reasons I sometimes think I should table this whole comic thing. I like drawing them and all, but putting one out every day isn't easy. Moreover, promotion is the big problem. Will I run out of ideas when it finally takes off? I have a plan for the comic for the next ten years so I can get it done, but it will take some digging.

I stopped eating fast food, because I think I should spend more on keeping things running and getting the equipment I need to make internet content. If I had all the money I spent on fast food in the last four years back I'd probably be able to get all the advertising I could need for my comic or YouTube channel.

I don't know, friends and family are what is called a support network, but being a man with few friends I find myself becoming someone who shouldn't go looking for help. I've got to get things done on my own. I went to college to look for help and got a big "pay us more", I looked to people I thought where my friends and had to drill them like Sergeant Dicks to get anything useful out of them. If feels to me as if most of the people I know are just empty husks. They can't feel the world around them. Like they have all gone numb.

Much like my Pickles and the dog. Pickles just refuses to take care of the poor animal so that the fungus has taken over large spots on his fur. If he would do only half or even a third of what that dog needs the animal would be in much better health, but he finds excuses to neglect the dog. The animal's suffering is something to witch Pickles is oblivious. That should not surprise me as he was just as oblivious to my own suffering when I was still talking to Alan. When my family had pushed me to the point of near death not one voice spoke out for me. No one single human being would do so little as to admit that what was happening to me was unfair. Then people wonder why I have had so little to do with the human race.

Still, I've taken to looking after the dog. Well, more that I have given up on expecting Pickles to have any hand in taking care of Gus. I’ve given up on him taking any real responsibility. The only conclusion to the problem of Pickles is to assume he is not there and get his responsibilities taken care of on my own. I grant, it's hard to pretend a person isn't there when he leaves a mess in the think for you, but cleaning up after myself will get a lot easier when I actually only have myself to look after.
Well, I need to get ready for work now so I'll have to cut it short.

Keep that chin up!


Richard Leland Neal

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Cover Letter

Like around ten percent of Americans I’m looking for a job. This is a letter I sent out with my application to two companies. Likely with little result, but I had to say something.
  
10th July 2011
Dear (perspective employer),

I’ve been a Security Officer for the last ten years, but with four years of Grad School ahead of me I’m looking to stay one until I get my MS. I like my work as a guard, and I’m told I do it well.

At the start of this year I was laid off from my seven year employer and took that time to finish my degree. They lost more than 50 jobs that month, so I guess it was inevitable.

My last employer said that if business picked up they would call me back, but they knew I was soon to become a college graduate. I doubt they will have need for more Guards any time soon. They had lost ten jobs the month before and fifteen two months earlier.

In four years I hope to get my certification from the state as a Mental Health Counselor. I want to help people. I can get this degree without working another day if I wanted to cash in my retirement plan and come away with tens of thousands in debt. I don’t see this as an option. A man is better off working than borrowing.

I look for honest work for honest pay.

Thank you for your time,

Richard Leland Neal

Monday, July 11, 2011

California Heat

Well, here is a letter to Cassi, and one that isn’t more than a year old. Well, I’m slowly braking away from my depression, so I should be able to post regularly.

I go over my old letters every now and again, and look after the ones that I think make interesting reading. I should have a year’s worth of letters sitting around. Getting them up is en effort some times, but I always feel better once I’ve done so.



5th July 2011
Dear Cassi,

The California heat has drained me of my strength. The hottest hours of the day I reserve for sleep, but this activity would be impossible if not for the fan constantly taking the sweat from my skin. The air is like a dog’s breath, and I awaken feeling like a soul trapped in a corpse. Even as I write this I’m forced to take the refuge of sleep on again before I can continue.

We celebrate the past with fireworks that sap the air of what we breathe. Our celebrations would be so much more enjoyable if we hadn’t already poisoned the sky. We breathe to blacken our lungs more than to stay alive.

I’m not the only person down here with depression, and that is the strangest thing in the land of sunshine and amusement parks. Once again the world is wonderful, but we in it making each other miserable.

Slowly I can feel life returning to my body as the water I drank filters through. They say it can take as much as six hours for the body to absorb water back into its extremities. Why this happens I can only speculate. I would think that water must first be returned to the brain, but still it must be tapped from the gut, run through the blood, and seep back into the outer bits of the body. That is a long way for water to go, and it has to change along the way.

The human body, like the modern life, is a complicated thing, full of odd bits and trimmings, and ever in a state of half balance. It is a strange luck that we can think at all with the labyrinth of half functioning bits we need to deal with.

Living is a complicated piece of work and the marvels of this world are things we rarely look at. We are things of shadow and dust made whole through water and air.

Stay safe, Cassi




Richard Leland Neal